Didi Kalmanofsky: Alumni Spotlight

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My experiences as a madrich in the Breira program were some of the best and most meaningful of all my camp memories. When I first floated the idea of joining the Breira tzevet before my JC summer, I knew that I believed in the program’s mission and was excited to share in it. However, I had no idea what I was actually signing up for. During shavua hachana, we spent hours as a tzevet running through a range of diagnoses our campers might have (most of which are unlikely to apply to any one camper), and play-acting a number of scenarios (most of which happened at least 75 million times). I left these meetings nervous, but also determined. I saw my future summer being full of problems to solve, and I was ready to work for the good of “my camper.”  I expected nothing in return.

That all fell away when kids arrived on opening day, and “my camper” turned out to be a living, breathing human being who loved reading and watermelon. I watched him grow and develop and fall and get up again. And with every step, I grew up with him. The ultimate lesson, I believe, learned through being a counselor, is that the work we do for others, and the care we provide them, is what camp is really about. By helping others, we elevate our own lives. The Breira program gave me an opportunity to do that work and provide that care, and in return, I gained more than I ever could have imagined. For the three summers I spent as a Breira counselor, the countless hours outside too-noisy rooms on too-hot days, and the incredible chance to share in someone’s improbable camp journey, I am grateful, from the bottom of my heart.